Anti-semitism, and the 9/11, Israel-Mossad Connection Part I

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By Rahnuma Ahmed

We Jews should never, ever become like our tormentors — not even to save our lives. Even at Auschwitz, I sensed that such a moral downfall would render my survival meaningless.
— Hajo Meyer, An Ethical Tradition Betrayed. Huffington Post, January 27, 2010.
If it had been Daniel Pipes, an Islamophobic American columnist, I wouldn’t have bothered. According to him, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels too, are anti-Semitic.
But these were close friends of Shahidul, both are Jewish, both are gentle, thoughtful and intelligent people who had read my columns posted on his blog, had written to say that they were deeply upset at my “anti-Semitism.” One of them, as she explained in her letter to me, had demonstrated with Palestinians against recent Israeli attacks on Gaza. Against earlier attacks too, the ones in Lebanon. She was no lover of Zionism, definitely not of Mossad, she wrote. The other, a much older friend of Shahidul’s, said that he wholeheartedly supported the existence of a Jewish state, and a Palestinian state in it’s own right. But what I write on Israel and Palestine is `nonsense,’ the sort of stuff that a fine scholar like myself shouldn’t be writing.
What does one do in such a situation? Besides feeling deeply upset, of course.
Read what one has written through their eyes. Turn one’s ideas this way and that. Look underneath. Reflect.
For today’s column I had thought of writing about what has led careful observers to not only think that 9/11 was an inside job but, that Israel and Mossad are connected to 9/11. Regular readers may remember that I have directly, or indirectly, written about 9/11, in many of my previous pieces. `Conspiracy theories.’ Learning from 9/11 (April 13, 2009). Al-Qaeda and Western intelligence operations (April 27, 2009). The Unfolding Crisis in Pakistan, parts 1 – 4 (May 11, 17, 18, 19 2009). The West’s immortal terrorist (December 21, 2009). 9/11 suicide hijackers. Risen from the dead (December 28, 2009). Pentagon’s prayers (January 4, 2010). Padded underwear (January 11, 2010). Mirror, mirror on the wall. Who provides the best security of them all? (January 25, 2010).
Regular readers also know that I analyse and critique not only western powers, but also, dominant institutions and ideologies, at home. That some of my recent pieces had discussed how Bengalis are prone to portray themselves as `victims’ rather than perpetrators of violence and injustice in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (April 5, 2010). How nationalist narratives of Bangladesh, whether celebrating the language movement of 1952 or the liberation struggle of 1971, have always been ethnically `singular’ (March 8, 2010). How Bengalis have begun mimicking their erstwhile Pakistani rulers when it comes to explaining what has gone wrong in the CHT: they have blamed it on others. How Bengali/national imagination needs to be de-colonised (March 26, 2010). Those who’ve read what I’ve written in Bangla know of my edited and translated collection of interviews and writings by contemporary Muslim intellectuals who engage with questions that are considered to be socially taboo in Bangladesh: do Muslims need to re-imagine Allah in a manner appropriate to the 21st century? Should the state intervene (and govern) the relationship between Allah, and His believer, since in Islam, Allah is sovereign? Are hadis and shariah patriarchal? Since homosexuality is real, and homosexuals are discriminated against by the Belgian government, shouldn’t Belgian Muslims who’ve also been victims of government discrimination, extend their support to homosexuals? (Islami Chintar Punorpothon: Shomokaleen Musolman Buddhijibder Shongram, 2006).
Nothing short of wild horses would have driven me to make this list but I do so to pre-empt attempts to deflect criticism of Israel and Zionism, usually conducted by raising counter-questions: But what about the oppressions and injustices in your own society? Why don’t you write about those?
I do.
And when I do, I don’t try to `balance’ my account of atrocities committed in the name of Bengalis in the CHT (can atrocities ever be balanced?). On the contrary, as a Bengali, I think it is obligatory that I write in the strongest possible terms, and what better day than our independence day to pen lines such as these:
Thirty-eight years on and I look at myself. I look at us women. I look at our normal, peacetime lives. And I wonder, if justice had been done, if the war criminals had been tried, if women had returned to their families, to their parents, husbands, lovers, brothers, if they did not have to go Pakistan, or to brothels, or to Mother Teresa’s in Kolkata, if those pregnant could have had their babies if they had wished, would my life, would our lives have been differently normal? If justice had been done, would the rape of hill women have been a necessary part of the military occupation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts? Would the offenders have enjoyed impunity? Would there not have been independent judicial investigations? Would those guilty have gone unpunished? Would the Chittagong Hill Tracts have been militarily occupied at all?” (Distances, Independence day supplement, New Age, March 26, 2008).
As the writers of When Victims Rule: A Critique of Jewish Pre-eminence in America argue, `Injustices perpetrated by the powerful, whoever they are, must always be challenged.’
Exactly. No balancing acts please. Like Yael Kahn, a courageous Jewish activist, who termed the recent JCall petition of 3,000 European Jews to the European Parliament as being “wholly inappropriate” to what the present demands. The petition had said that the systematic support of Israeli government policy is dangerous. That the Israeli occupation and settlements are morally and politically wrong. That Israel is going down the wrong path. That the current Israeli policies are a source of injustice for the Palestinians. Kahn welcomed the petititon but blasted JCall for failing to mention Israel’s barbaric seige of 1.5 million Palestinians living in Gaza. Neither do the petitioners speak out against Israeli restrictions on the amount of food Gaza’s Palestinians are allowed to have. Every person of conscience, she said, must take action to lift Israel’s seige of Gaza (al-Jazeera, May 4 2010).
And to this I’d like to add, why is it that these actions of the Israeli government are not considered to be anti-Semitic? As Curt Day points out, there are three dictionary definitions of Semite and one of these includes those living in Southwest Asia . In other words, Arabs. If Semites include Arabs, then is not this restricted use of the term anti-Semitism “racist”?
And maybe that is part of the problem. The assumption of an essential anti-Semitism. Fixed. Unchanging. Outside history. Regardless of what Jews do. Even if they become oppressors. Even when they become oppressors, so intent on oppressing that they become forgetful of which lessons to learn from history. For instance, this Israeli officer:
“In order to prepare properly for the next campaign, one of the Israeli officers in the (occupied) territories said not long ago, it’s justified and in fact essential to learn from every possible source. If the mission will be to seize a densely populated refugee camp, or take over the casbah in Nablus, and if the commander’s obligation is to try to execute the mission without casualties on either side, then we must first analyze and internalize the lessons of earlier battles?even, however shocking it may sound, even how the German army fought in the Warsaw ghetto.”
Amir Oren, military correspondent, Haaretz, had added: If this officer believes that the casbah of Nablus resembles the Warsaw ghetto, who, in his mind, resemble the officers of the Israeli army?
But then, as Auschwitz survivor Hajo Meyer tells us, Auschwitz and the Holocaust have been elevated into a new religion in Israel. “In the beginning is Auschwitz,” as Elie Wiesel had said. “Nothing should be compared to the Holocaust but everything must be related to it.” It is this that has allowed one of the worst genocides in history to be “exploited for political ends.” When Holocaust was turned into a religion it came to mean that Israel can do no wrong.
And I would like to add, Israel’s wrongs are not only confined to the occupied territories/ Palestine, but extends to Afghanistan and Iraq. To Pakistan. It reaches out to Iran, too.
Had the situation been the opposite, I would have been as vocal in defence of what would then have been the Israeli cause.
An earlier version published in New Age

Concluding instalment, next week

Earlier version published in New Age Monday May 10, 2010

The Mideast's One-State Solution

by Muammar Qaddafi

The International Herald Tribune

A Palestinian girl and her mother walk near anti-riot Israeli police in Arab East Jerusalem on January 16, 2009. The Israeli army locked down the occupied West Bank today as Hamas called for a day of "wrath" against the deadly offensive on Gaza. The West Bank will be closed off for 48 hours from midnight yesterday (2200 GMT), the army said in a statement. The announcement came after the Islamist movement Hamas called on Palestinians to observe a "day of wrath" on Friday by staging anti-Israeli protests after the weekly Muslim prayers. PATRICK BAZ/AFP/Getty Images)
A Palestinian girl and her mother walk near anti-riot Israeli police in Arab East Jerusalem on January 16, 2009. The Israeli army locked down the occupied West Bank today as Hamas called for a day of "wrath" against the deadly offensive on Gaza. The West Bank will be closed off for 48 hours from midnight yesterday (2200 GMT), the army said in a statement. The announcement came after the Islamist movement Hamas called on Palestinians to observe a "day of wrath" on Friday by staging anti-Israeli protests after the weekly Muslim prayers. ? PATRICK BAZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Palestinian mother and daughter walk past Israeli troops. Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi is calling for a one-state solution. (Photo: Patrick Baz / AFP / Getty Images) Tripoli, Libya – The shocking level of the last wave of Israeli-Palestinian violence, which ended with this weekend’s cease-fire, reminds us why a final resolution to the so-called Middle East crisis is so important. It is vital not just to break this cycle of destruction and injustice, but also to deny the religious extremists in the region who feed on the conflict an excuse to advance their own causes. But everywhere one looks, among the speeches and the desperate diplomacy, there is no real way forward. A just and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians is possible, but it lies in the history of the people of this conflicted land, and not in the tired rhetoric of partition and two-state solutions. Although it’s hard to realize after the horrors we’ve just witnessed, the state of war between the Jews and Palestinians has not always existed. In fact, many of the divisions between Jews and Palestinians are recent ones. The very name “Palestine” was commonly used to describe the whole area, even by the Jews who lived there, until 1948, when the name “Israel” came into use. Jews and Muslims are cousins descended from Abraham. Throughout the centuries both faced cruel persecution and often found refuge with one another. Arabs sheltered Jews and protected them after maltreatment at the hands of the Romans and their expulsion from Spain in the Middle Ages.
The history of Israel/Palestine is not remarkable by regional standards – a country inhabited by different peoples, with rule passing among many tribes, nations and ethnic groups; a country that has withstood many wars and waves of peoples from all directions. This is why it gets so complicated when members of either party claims the right to assert that it is their land. The basis for the modern State of Israel is the persecution of the Jewish people, which is undeniable. The Jews have been held captive, massacred, disadvantaged in every possible fashion by the Egyptians, the Romans, the English, the Russians, the Babylonians, the Canaanites and, most recently, the Germans under Hitler. The Jewish people want and deserve their homeland. But the Palestinians too have a history of persecution, and they view the coastal towns of Haifa, Acre, Jaffa and others as the land of their forefathers, passed from generation to generation, until only a short time ago.
Thus the Palestinians believe that what is now called Israel forms part of their nation, even were they to secure the West Bank and Gaza. And the Jews believe that the West Bank is Samaria and Judea, part of their homeland, even if a Palestinian state were established there. Now, as Gaza still smolders, calls for a two-state solution or partition persist. But neither will work. A two-state solution will create an unacceptable security threat to Israel. An armed Arab state, presumably in the West Bank, would give Israel less than 10 miles of strategic depth at its narrowest point. Further, a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip would do little to resolve the problem of refugees. Any situation that keeps the majority of Palestinians in refugee camps and does not offer a solution within the historical borders of Israel/Palestine is not a solution at all.
For the same reasons, the older idea of partition of the West Bank into Jewish and Arab areas, with buffer zones between them, won’t work. The Palestinian-held areas could not accommodate all of the refugees, and buffer zones symbolize exclusion and breed tension. Israelis and Palestinians have also become increasingly intertwined, economically and politically. In absolute terms, the two movements must remain in perpetual war or a compromise must be reached. The compromise is one state for all, an “Isratine” that would allow the people in each party to feel that they live in all of the disputed land and they are not deprived of any one part of it.
A key prerequisite for peace is the right of return for Palestinian refugees to the homes their families left behind in 1948. It is an injustice that Jews who were not originally inhabitants of Palestine, nor were their ancestors, can move in from abroad while Palestinians who were displaced only a relatively short time ago should not be so permitted. It is a fact that Palestinians inhabited the land and owned farms and homes there until recently, fleeing in fear of violence at the hands of Jews after 1948 – violence that did not occur, but rumors of which led to a mass exodus. It is important to note that the Jews did not forcibly expel Palestinians. They were never “un-welcomed.” Yet only the full territories of Isratine can accommodate all the refugees and bring about the justice that is key to’peace. Assimilation is already a fact of life in Israel. There are more than 1 million Muslim Arabs in Israel; they possess Israeli nationality and take part in political life with the Jews, forming political parties. On the other side, there are Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Israeli factories depend on Palestinian labor, and goods and services are exchanged. This successful assimilation can be a model for Isratine.
If the present interdependence and the historical fact of Jewish-Palestinian co-existence guide their leaders, and if they can see beyond the horizon of the recent violence and thirst for revenge toward a long-term solution, then these two peoples will come to realize, I hope sooner rather than later, that living under one roof is the only option for a lasting peace. ——–
Muammar Qaddafi is the leader of Libya. Thursday 22 January 2009
related links:
Complicity in slaughter
Today in Gaza
Home and the architecture of occupation
How Beautiful is Panama
The Face of a Terrorist?
Checkposts
I hear the screams
Iran Palestine and the Hypocrisies of Power – an interview with Noam Chomsky

Complicity in slaughter. Gaza

by Rahnuma Ahmed

I feel like I’m witnessing the systematic destruction of a people’s ability to survive. It’s horrifying.
— Rachel Corrie (1979-2003), a 23 year old American member of the International Solidarity Movement, killed by an Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) bulldozer during a protest against the destruction of Palestinian homes in the Gaza strip.
The Americans, wrote Sir John Troutbeck, head of the British Middle East office in Cairo, to Ernest Bevin, the Foreign Secretary, were responsible for the creation of a gangster state headed by “an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders” (2 June 1948). America’s role in the establishment of the state of Israel in May 1948, one that involved “a monumental injustice” to the Palestinians, writes Avi Shlaim, an Iraqi-born British historian of Jewish descent, was partisanal. This was bitterly resented by British officials. This, writes Shlaim, is the historical context, and it is essential that we remember this when we try to make sense of the senseless carnage in Gaza.
It is a slaughter that is relentless. A savage barbarity, utterly modern. Just like the Nazi holocaust.
Bomb attacks on civilian targets, including homes, schools, mosques, universities. Torn limbs. Sniper fire. Bullet holes in little breasts. Severed heads. I remember seeing a little girl on al-Jazeera. Curly locks framing her face. That was all, just a small head. There are other images, of scattered limbs, of buildings destroyed, of parents wailing. No place to go. No place to hide. Ambulances are fired upon. US-supplied F-16 fighter and attack jets rain down Operation Cast Lead bombs on unarmed civilians. There are indications, say defence analysts, that white phosphorus is being used. I watch an Israeli government spokesman reply on al-Jazeera, We do not use anything not used by the US government, or NATO. Brazenness. Complicity. Silence. People pouring out in the streets worldwide, `We are all Palestinians.’ Burning the Israeli flag, the Star of David. Roles reversed. Who is David, who is Goliath in this war of unequals, of primitive rockets against Israeli military strength annually resourced by $2 million, by the US, for the last 23 years. Upped, during the Bush administration to $21 billion in US security assistance, including $19 billion in direct military aid under the Pentagon’s Foreign Military Financing (FMF) programme. As Frida Berrigan notes, Israel remains the single largest recipient of US military aid each year. Holocaust in Gaza? US media screams of anti-Semitism.
Discourses of denial are accompanied by rhetorics of reverse discrimination and reverse racism, writes Mark Lawrence McPhail, in a study on racism. Subtle forms of individual and institutional contempt for the rights of the oppressed are ever-present.
Israel has the right to defend itself and its population from years of rocket attacks by Hamas. Hamas smuggles weapons into Gaza from Egypt. Israel has the right to bomb these tunnels, to secure its national interest. Israel withdrew from Gaza. It ended its occupation. It gave up its settlements and its military bases in Gaza. Hamas has used the Israeli disengagement from Gaza to launch attacks at Israel without any provocation whatsoever. Hamas, and not Israel, broke the June 2008 ceasefire. Hamas is a terrorist organisation. Israel does not kill Palestinian civilians intentionally. Hamas, and not Israel, is responsible for the deaths of Palestinians because it uses them as human shields. Denials pour out endlessly.
As the Australian Green Left’s website points out, try as you may, the statements of Israeli and US politicians do not match the pictures of devastation in Gaza. There can be only one explanation. They must be suffering from one of those conditions, a ?Visual-Carnage-Responsibility-Back-To-Front-Upside-Down-Massacre-Disorder?.
But those who can call a slaughter what it is — a slaughter — keep pointing out repeatedly, Gaza is, in reality, the world’s largest open-air prison. Four decades of Israeli control has done “incalculable damage” to the economy of the Gaza strip. Most of its 1.5 million population are 1948 refugees, looking out on to land that was earlier, rightfully theirs. Gaza, as Shlaim notes, is not simply a case of economic under-development, “but a uniquely cruel case of de-development.” Israel has turned Gaza’s people into a source of cheap labour, and a captive market for Israeli goods. Israel withdrew all 8,000 settlers from Gaza in August 2005, destroyed their houses and farms, a withdrawal that was presented by Ariel Sharon as a contribution to peace based on a two-state solution. But this withdrawal was not a “prelude to a peace deal” with the Palestinian Authority, but a prelude to further Zionist expansion on the West Bank, as evidenced by the next year’s settlement of 12,000 Israelis on the West Bank. As for Gaza, even though Israeli settlers were withdrawn, Israeli soldiers continued to control all access to Gaza. Palestinians had no control over moving in and out of Gaza. No control over either land, sea or air borders. No open access to services needed, no viable economic opportunities. Poverty rate in Gaza had reached 80%. Gaza’s people lived constantly under the threat of Israeli military incursions, shelling, targetted assassinations (remember Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, near-blind paraplegic, confined to a wheelchair, assassinated by an Israeli helicopter gunship in 2004, along with two bodyguards, and nine bystanders).

US outgoing president George W Bush kisses Israeli foreign minister Livni as Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and looks on. Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport 09 January 2008.  MARCO LONGARI/AFP/Getty Images)
US outgoing president George W Bush kisses Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni as Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert looks on. Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport 09 January 2008. ? MARCO LONGARI/AFP/Getty Images)

Those who can call a slaughter what it is — a slaughter — have also pointed out that Israel’s rocket crisis is “fabricated”. Jim Holstun and Joanna Tinker, in an Electronic Intifada article (6 January 2009) reveal that an Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs document, The Hamas Terror War against Israel shows striking evidence of Hamas’s good faith during the lull in hostilities. Two graphs, drawn up by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Israel Intelligence Heritage & Commemoration Center, show that the total number of rocket and mortar attacks went down from 245 in June to a total of 26 for July through October. A reduction of 97%. But this was not sufficient. Israel violated the truce, it imposed on Gaza a terror-famine. Hamas still did not respond by launching rockets, not until Israel cancelled the truce on the night of 4-5 November by “sending an Israeli commando squad into Gaza, killing 6 Hamas members. Hamas responded by firing 30 rockets. Since the charts help to expose the `Hamas fires rockets’ for what it is, an outright lie, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs removed these from its website on the eve of the Israeli occupation forces ground assault on Gaza, on 4 January 2008. These have been substituted by a near-illegible graph in which the “labels obscure the data,” and the caption hides the de facto end of rocket and mortar fire during the calm until 4 November.
Other Western governments are also complicit in the slaughter. As Jim Miles points out, the Canadian government’s position is no different to the US position:? Israel is the victim of Hamas terrorist aggression. Peter Kent, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs said in early January 2009, Hamas rocketing was responsible for the initial development of the crisis. And then he went on to mouth words, regurgitated endlessly by the west’s leaders, `the deepening humanitarian tragedy’, `Canada is concerned about the loss of civilian life…’ The European Union president, the Czech republic, said on 3 January 2009, the Israeli ground offensive in Gaza was “defensive”, not “offensive” action. A coalition of Lebanese and Palestinian NGOs, on January 8, accused the European Union of being party to crimes against humanity by supporting Israel’s military offensive in the Gaza strip. They delivered a letter to EU’s offices in Beirut, addressed to EU’s Ambassador to Lebanon Patrick Laurent. It termed the 27-member bloc’s response to the “crimes” in Gaza, as being not only justificatory, but also, of becoming a “party to them, by providing them legitimacy.” EU officials dismissed the accusations as being based on “misinformation.”
And Ban Ki-Moon, the secretary-general of the United Nations, deliberately avoided issuing a condemnation of the Israeli army bombing of an UNRWA school in Gaza, one in which Palestinian civilians had fled to seek shelter. Fifty Palestinian citizens were killed, ten others wounded. It was “unacceptable,” he said. It should “not be repeated,” he said. No words of condemnation either, for the killing of three UN workers, gunned down by IOF bullets. No wonder that Osman Barghouti, Palestinian human rights activist and commentator writes, Ban Ki-moon will surely go down in history as “the most subservient and morally unqualified Secretary-General to ever lead the international organization.”
And compliant Middle-Eastern governments, precious American allies, like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the others? An online al-Jazeera poll shows, 94% of respondents think that some Arab governments were complicit in Israel’s attack on Gaza.
The list of political and military leaders — Israeli, American, European, and also Arab — to be tried for war crimes, is a long one. People, the world over, are compiling it.

Today in Gaza

You who are silent
You who leave it to others
You who do not hear the screams

Every bomb that falls
Every ‘call for restraint’
Every blood clot etched in the sand

Calls out in vain
Calls out in pain
Calls out your name

Remember you let it happen
Remember you turned away
Remember you were silent


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This letter arrived this morning:
Dear Shahidul
This is from my friend Selim, about yesterday’s aggression. As you know I worked on year in Gaza (as the head of the UNRWA health services that provides primary health care to 20,000 refugees daily. So far more than 200 dead and more than 700 wounded, many civilians as there is no “clean” war in urban settings and surgical strikes; The horror is there. And foreign governments recommend restraints on both sides as if it was a solution. Hamas respected the truce for many months and saw no improvement.
Thanks for doing what you can.
Pierre Claquin
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Today in Gaza
It was just before noon when I heard the first explosion. I rushed to my window, barely had I looked out when I was pushed back by the force and air pressure of another explosion. For a few moments I didn’t understand, then I realized that Israeli promises of a wide-scale offensive against the Gaza Strip had materialized. Israeli Foreign Minister, Tzpi Livni’s statements following a meeting with Egyptian President Hussni Mubarak the day before yesterday had not been empty threats after all.
What followed seems pretty much surreal at this point. Never had we imagined anything like this. It all happened so fast but the amount of death and destruction is inconceivable, even to me and I’m in the middle of it and a few hours have passed already passed.
6 locations were hit during the air raid on Gaza city. The images are probably not broadcasted in US news channels. There were piles and piles of bodies in the locations that were hit. As you looked at them you could see that a few of the young men are still alive, someone lifts a hand here, and another raise his head there. They probably died within moments because their bodies are burned, most have lost limbs, some have their guts hanging out and they’re all lying in pools of blood. Outside my home, (which is close to the 2 largest universities in Gaza) a missile fell on a large group of young men, university students, they’d been warned not to stand in groups, it makes them an easy target, but they were waiting for buses to take them home. 7 were killed, 4 students and 3 of our neighbors kids, young men who were from the same family (Rayes) and were best friends. As I’m writing this I can hear a funeral procession go by outside, I looked out the window a moment ago and it was the 3 Rayes boys, They spent all their time together when they were alive, they died together and now their sharing the same funeral together. Nothing could stop my 14 year old brother from rushing out to see the bodies of his friends laying in the street after they were killed. He hasn’t spoken a word since.
What did Olmert mean when he stated that WE the people of Gaza weren’t the enemy, that it was Hamas and the Islamic Jihad who were being targeted? Was that statement made to infuriate us out of out state of shock, to pacify any feelings of rage and revenge? To mock us?? Were the scores of children on their way home from school and who are now among the dead and the injured Hamas militants? A little further down my street about half an hour after the first strike 3 schoolgirls happened to be passing by one of the locations when a missile struck the Preventative Security Headquarters building. The girls bodies were torn into pieces and covered the street from one side to the other.
In all the locations people are going through the dead terrified of recognizing a family member among them. The streets are strewn with their bodies, their arms, legs, feet, some with shoes and some without. The city is in a state of alarm, panic and confusion, cell phones aren’t working, hospitals and morgues are backed up and some of the dead are still lying in the streets with their families gathered around them, kissing their faces, holding on to them. Outside the destroyed buildings old men are kneeling on the floor weeping. Their slim hopes of finding their sons still alive vanished after taking one look at what had become of their office buildings.
And even after the dead are identified, doctors are having a hard time gathering the right body parts in order to hand them over to their families. The hospital hallways look like a slaughterhouse. It’s truly worse than any horror movie you could ever imagine. The floor is filled with blood, the injured are propped up against the walls or laid down on the floor side by side with the dead. Doctors are working frantically and people with injuries that aren’t life threatening are sent home. A relative of mine was injured by a flying piece of glass from her living room window, she had deep cut right down the middle of her face. She was sent home, too many people needed medical attention more urgently. Her husband, a dentist, took her to his clinic and sewed up her face using local anesthesia
200 people dead in today’s air raid. That means 200 funeral processions, a few today, most of them tomorrow probably. To think that yesterday these families were worried about food and heat and electricity. At this point I think they -actually all of us- would gladly have Hamas sign off every last basic right we’ve been calling for the last few months forever if it could have stopped this from ever having happened.
The bombing was very close to my home. Most of my extended family live in the area. My family is ok, but 2 of my uncles’ homes were damaged. We can rest easy, Gazans can mourn tonight. Israel is said to have promised not to wage any more air raids for now. People suspect that the next step will be targeted killings, which will inevitably means scores more of innocent bystanders whose fate has already been sealed.
This doesn’t even begin to tell the story on any level. Just flashes of thing that happened today that are going through my head.
Peace
Selim
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Identity Card, a poem by Mahmoud Darwish
gaza-holocaust-report
gaza-violence-attracting-people-to-citizen

Home and the architecture of occupation

Rahnuma Ahmed

Homes, sweet homes

WHAT does home mean for Palestinians driven away from their land in recurring waves of Israeli onslaught ? 1948, 1949 to 1956, and again in 1967, due to the six-day war? What does home mean for first generation Palestinian refugees, and for their descendants, for people who ?yearn for Palestine??
It is a yearning that permeates, in the words of David McDowall, the ?whole refugee community?, one that stretches from 986,034 in the Gaza Strip, 699,817 in the West Bank, 1,827,877 in Jordan, 404,170 in Lebanon and 432,048 in Syria (2005 figures). What does home ? something that ?exists only in the imagination? ? mean for Palestinians who are subject to Israel?s ongoing colonisation of Palestine?
?What, for you, is home?? ?How would you represent it?? ?How would you represent it if you were to take one single photograph?? Florence Aigner, a Belgian photographer, put these three questions to Palestinian refugees living in the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. She gave them time to think and returned with her camera and notebook the next day to take two photographs: a portrait of the person, and a representation of what home meant for that person, both visually, and through words. Personal narratives are often lost in collective narratives, and Aigner says she wanted to explore both diversity and particularity through the experiences of daily living. Her approach, she says, allows her to create a dialogue between the person and her or his idea of a home, between the photograph and the photographer, and also, between photography and writing. And thus we find images of home in exile interspersed with images of home in Palestine, images where one home is often projected on the other. These images form her exhibition, Homes, sweet homes.
I had always felt homeless, says Eman, and had refused to cook, `to practise home?. But now, even though our house in Ramallah is temporary, I have started to cook, cooking for me is ?an act of love?. For Oum Mahmoud, home is her husband who was killed in a Mossad air attack. Her house in Ramallah was destroyed in a recent Israeli missile attack, the new flat has ?no memories?, ?no furniture?, it is like living in a hotel. For Wisam Suleiman, home is orange trees and lemon trees, and the faces of martyrs who have given their lives to assert their right to return. The way home, says Suleiman, is ?sweeter than home itself?. For Abu Majdi, forced to flee in 1948, home is the ?key of our house in Jerusalem.?

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Photographs and interviews by Florence Aigner

Iman Florence Aigner
Eman from Jerusalem. She lives in Ramallah, West Bank. ? Florence Aigner

Being on the margin, following my own footsteps, I always felt homeless. It made me develop a sense of rejection mainly for the kitchen, the heart of practising home. So I refused psychologically and practically to cook.
Last year, I had to move with my husband and our two children to Ramallah when passing back and forth between Ramallah and Jerusalem became an Odyssey trip due to the Calandia checkpoint and the harsh siege imposed on the city. Our house in Ramallah is temporary, I started to cook and feel good about it, cooking became an act of love I dedicate to my family. Is this home?
Oum Mahmoud from Hebron. She lives in Ramallah, West Bank.
Oum Mahmoud from Hebron. She lives in Ramallah, West Bank. ? Florence Aigner

My home is my husband. I have only a few photos of him left. He was killed during an air attack by Mossad on the office of the PLO in Tunis in 1986. In the 90?s I could return to Palestine with the Palestinian Authority. Since then I live in Ramallah.
I have recently lost everything, my house burned when an Israeli missile hit it. I could only rescue some books and photos from the flames. Now I live in a new flat, but I have no memories or furniture left. I buy little by little some stuff to furnish it. I have the feeling to live in a hotel.
Wisam Suleiman, from Haifa. He lives in the refugee camp.
Wisam Suleiman, from Haifa. He lives in the refugee camp. ? Florence Aigner

When I hear the word ?home? orange trees and lemon trees come to my mind as well as faces of hundreds of martyrs who have given their life for the right of return. For me, the way of return has to go through education, education, education…and books.
As Palestinian refugees we have to prepare the new generation to return to Palestine in a human way. We have to carry our culture and science with us, and work hard. The way home is more beautiful than home itself.
Abu Majid
Abu Majdi, from Malha. He lives in Beit Jala in the West Bank. ? Florence Aigner

My home is my house in Malha near Jerusalem that we had to flee in 1948. I hope to return there one day, but I am not very optimistic, because Israel wants a land without its inhabitants. Sometimes I don?t understand anything. Before 1948 we had Jewish friends, we were living together. In 1948 we had to leave everything behind and we became refugees in Aida camp, Bethlehem.
An Iraqi Jewish family, the Rajwan moved then into our house in Jerusalem. We were friends and were giving gifts to each other. We saw them until 1967. I remember the grandfather used to say that he wanted to return to Iraq and to give us back our house. He said that they were keeping it for the day we could return. Eventually the old man died without having been able to return to Iraq. Me, I have kept the keys of our house in Jerusalem all my life.
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The architecture of occupation

Migron in occupied West Bank is a fully-fledged illegal settlement of Israelis, comprising 60 trailers on a hilltop that overlooks Palestinian lands below. In 1999, several Israeli settlers complained to the mobile phone company Orange about a bend in the road from Jerusalem to their settlements that caused disruption to their phone service. The company agreed to put up an antenna on a hill situated above the bend. The hill was owned by Palestinian farmers, but their permission was not required since mobile phone reception is a ?security? issue. Mast construction began, while other companies agreed to supply electricity and water to the construction site on the hill. In May 2001, an Israeli security guard, soon followed by his wife and children, moved to the site and connected his cabin to the main water and electricity supply. Less than a year later, five other families joined him. This is how the settler outpost of Migron was created. Soon, the Israeli ministry for construction and housing helped build a nursery, while a synagogue was built from donations from abroad.

The Migron settlement in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
The Migron settlement in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. ? Milutin Labudovic/Peace Now

Eyal Weizman, dissident Israeli architect and architectural theorist of the relationships and exchanges between architectural and military planning, documents the processes of illegal Israeli settlement ? in his words, ?a civilian occupation?. His book Hollow Land: Israel?s Architecture of Occupation provides a detailed and exact account of ?how occupation works in practice?. Weizman had, at the invitation of the Palestinian authority, also been involved in planning houses for Palestinians, in re-using settlements after the Israeli evacuation of August 2005. What is to be done with settlements after evacuation? Are they to be abandoned, reused, converted, or recycled? The Palestinians, he says, had rejected these single family homes as suburbs. After intense discussions, it was finally agreed that the evacuated shells of settlement would be spatialised into a set of public institutions: an agricultural university, a cultural centre, a clinic for the Red Cross, etc. But the project of re-using the illegal settlements collapsed after the Israelis destroyed them.
Settlement planning and building of the Israelis, says Weizman, emerges out of ?organisational chaos?. The very nature of Israeli occupation is one of ?uncoordinated coordination? where the government allows ?degrees of freedom? to rough elements, to a whole host of actors ? Israeli settlers, mobile phone companies, utility firms, state institutions, the army, etc ? and then denies its involvement. Micro-processes, such as that of an Israeli civilian moving a cabin to an illegal site, settling down, home-building, foreign donations pouring in to build a synagogue become wheels in larger processes of occupation of Palestinian lands. In the Israeli government?s colonial policies.
And as these occur, home-building for Palestinians ? even in the sixtieth year of their mass exodus ? remains something that exists ?only in the imagination?.